Lead singer Gwen Stefani and her brother Eric Stefani , former No Doubt member, wrote the song originally as a love song. The song went through several rewrites and new versions. Gwen modified it into a breakup song about her bandmate and ex-boyfriend Tony Kanal shortly after he ended their seven-year relationship. Despite the song's popularity, "Don't Speak" did not chart on the US Billboard Hot as rules of the times required commercial singles for charting and one was not issued for the song , but it did reach number one on the Billboard Hot Airplay for sixteen weeks. Originally a love song, Gwen rewrote the lyrics almost completely after her break up with the band's bassist Tony Kanal. According to Gwen, "It used to be more upbeat, more of a Seventies rock-type thing.